Bulk wine. That’s the wine industry term for wine that isn’t in a bottle yet. Instead it is sitting at a permitted winery site in some sort of container, be that a stainless steel tank, a barrel, a drum or a keg or these days perhaps a cement “egg”. Wineries will decide to sell some of their bulk wine that they don’t plan to use in their bottled blends. They’ll put it on the bulk wine market through a wine broker. Every day on the Wine Business website they list a link to the “Recent sales of grapes and bulk wine“.
When wineries purchase wine from the bulk wine market there is a specific document that comes with the delivery of that wine, called a bill of lading or a transfer in bond record to the TTB. That document is required to have specific details on it to satisfy TTB regulation requirements. Here in California there is also a state requirement for documenting the sale which is a weighmaster certificate.
Wineries on both ends of the sales transaction have responsibility for ensuring that both of these regulated documents are completed correctly. What exactly are the details that must be listed on each of these documents?
For the TTB they have a specific set of items that are required to be listed on any “transfer in bond” record which is what they call a bill of lading for shipping wine between wineries. Here are a few of the items they require:
To meet the requirements for the weighmaster certificate, which are regulated by the California Department of Food & Agriculture this document must contain 13 items, a sample of which can be seen here: Weighmaster certificate requirements
The reason for the weighmaster certificate requirement here in California is that a bulk wine sale is just that, a sales transaction and the completion of a weighmaster certificate means that the full set of weights for a load of bulk wine were completed by a site with a weighmaster license. Those weights will then be used to convert them into the gallons delivered which will be the number used to base the payment of the sales transaction between the wineries.
In working with wineries I regularly see completed bills of lading for bulk wine movements. These are both bills of lading they received from another winery or ones that they completed themselves. Now perhaps it is just my years of winery compliance background but the errors I regularly see on these completed forms is my business’ world version of nails on a chalkboard.
Some of the most common issues I see on these (translation: they were filled out incorrectly) are:
If you’re reading this and have any follow up questions for your winery related to properly documenting this common activity of purchasing bulk wine feel free to respond to this post or sign up for one of my “Compliance Check in Calls”